Childhood Myopia: What It Is and What You Can Do

Every day, dozens of parents bring their children in for eye exams and other services, and many of them have queries about myopia. To help disseminate myopia awareness, we’ve outlined the fundamentals of childhood myopia, why it’s significant, and the things you can do as a parent to protect your child’s long-term eye health.

What exactly is myopia?

Myopia (commonly known as nearsightedness) is the leading cause of impaired vision in those under the age of 40, and its prevalence among minors is increasing at an alarming rate.

Myopia typically begins in childhood and worsens or progresses until early adulthood (the eye continues to grow larger). During this period, the symptom of myopia, blurred distance vision, worsens, necessitating stronger spectacles to maintain clear vision. If blurred vision at a distance is a symptom of myopia, what is myopia? Myopia refers to an eye that is developing too long. 

What are the factors linked to myopia?

Myopia risk factors include:

    • Heredity (having one or both myopic parents).
  • Insufficient outdoor time.
  • Excessive near labour (time spent reading, doing schoolwork, and using digital screens).

Myopia in childhood is progressive, so your child may require a new prescription every year or two. However, without treatment, a child’s myopia will aggravate until early adulthood. In addition, myopia is associated with a significantly increased risk of developing eye disease in the future, which is something that some individuals do not realise.

How does myopia affect the health of a child?

Myopia in childhood increases a child’s risk of developing severe eye diseases later in life compared to non-myopic children, and these probabilities increase as myopia worsens.

Depending on their degree of nearsightedness, children with myopia are more likely to develop myopic maculopathy (also known as myopic macular degeneration, a vision-threatening complication).

Another severe eye condition that can cause permanent blindness is retinal detachment. 3 to 21 times more likely for a myopic child to develop this emergency eye condition as an adult. Long-term, adolescents with myopia are three times more likely to develop glaucoma, the primary cause of blindness worldwide.

What can parents do to slow the progression of myopia?

We are aware that parents desire the finest for their offspring. So, here are a few tips to maintain your child’s eyes healthy, regardless of whether or not myopia has set in.

Bring your children outside to play. Multiple studies indicate that children who spend more than 2 hours per day outdoors have lower myopia prevalence and progression.

Although it may not always be possible, attempt to limit your child’s exposure to continuous close labour. Remind your child to take pauses while reading or browsing through a smartphone.

However, the most essential thing you can do to safeguard your child’s long-term eye health is to treat their myopia.